Dissident Catholic groups target 'Humanae Vitae'


ITALY:MORE THAN 50 dissident Catholic groups chose to mark yesterday's 40th anniversary of the encyclical Humanae Vitae, which effectively introduced the Catholic Church's ban on contraception, by taking out a half-page advertisement in Italian daily Corriere Della Sera claiming that the church's teachings on sexuality had been catastrophic for the world's poor, had left millions at risk of HIV and had been an "utter failure", writes Paddy Agnew.

Calling on Pope Benedict XVI to lift "the Vatican's dangerous ban on contraception", the dissident groups argued that the teachings of Humanae Vitae had proved to be a source of conflict and division within the church and had had a devastating impact on the developing world.

" has had a catastrophic impact on the poor and powerless around the world, endangering women's lives and leaving millions at risk of HIV. The impact of the ban has been particularly disastrous in the global south, and because the Catholic hierarchy holds significant sway over many national family planning policies, it obstructs the implementation of good public health policies on family planning and HIV prevention.

"Most Catholics use modern contraceptives," the letter continued, "believe it is a moral choice to do so and consider themselves to be good Catholics, yet the Catholic hierarchy completely denies this reality, forcing the clergy into silence on this and most other issues related to sexuality."

Written by organisations including Catholics For Choice, New Ways Ministry and Wir Sind Kirche, and representing Catholics in Argentina, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, France, Italy, Mexico, The Netherlands, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and the USA, the letter concludes: "Pope Benedict, we call on you to use this anniversary as an opportunity to start the process of healing by being true to the positive aspects of Catholic teachings on sexuality and lifting the ban on contraception to allow Catholics to plan their families safely and in good conscience."

Speaking on Vatican radio yesterday afternoon, senior Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the spread of Aids was not linked in any way either to a population's religious beliefs or to the influence of the hierarchy.